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Sarasota Monday, Feb. 21, 2022 5 months ago

Red-light camera renewal before City Commission this week

City scheduled to vote on contract's second of three one-year renewals.
by: Eric Garwood Managing Editor

City commissioners meeting in regular session on Tuesday, Feb. 22 are scheduled to vote on the second of three potential one-year contract extensions with the city’s red-light traffic camera provider.

Since 2018, 20 Sarasota intersections have been equipped with gear from Red Speed Florida LLC. The city pays Red Speed $3,500 a month for each of the installations, a total of $70,000 monthly or $840,000 annually.

In 2019, the city’s revenue from the cameras was $955,066. Revenue fell to less than half in the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic to $408,751 in 2020 and $780,636 in 2021. According to a city document prepared by the Sarasota Police, a similar figure is projected for 2022.

In a memo to City Manager Marlon Brown requesting the one-year extension, Acting Police Chief Rex Troche said fees for the service are offset by the revenue the devices generate, and the cameras are key to traffic safety at the 20 intersections around the city.

“Photo enforcement of red-light violations improves safety by increasing compliance of drivers stopping at red lights, providing 24 hours a day, 365 days a year unbiased traffic enforcement and produce a record of evidence that is not easily disputed,” he wrote.

The city originally agreed to a three-year deal in January 2018 with the option of three one-year extensions. The extension under consideration next week is the second and would expire in 2023.

According to Florida law, red light camera photographs must be reviewed by a police officer before a citation can be issued. Typically, red-light citations do not result in punative license points, but the fine is $158. 

The red-light camera renewal is part of the commission's consent agenda, which typically is voted on with other topics and not subject to discussion. 

Among other issues on the Feb. 22 agenda:

Discussion of alterations to the city's tree ordinance, as recommended by the city's Tree Advisory Committee; 

Discussion of the city's sidewalk cafe rules, including the addition of rules prohibiting the advertisement of alcoholic drinks in the outdoor area; rules governing where outdoor space heaters can be placed.

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